Prank gets Dallas students banned from graduation



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Posted on May 23, 2012 at 6:28 PM

Updated Friday, May 25 at 9:57 PM

Should the Madison HS seniors who released crickets and a frog on campus be banned from graduation?

UPDATE: Dallas ISD Trustee Bernadette Nutall said she is now working with the district to let the two students participate in this summer's commencement exercises. Nutall said she is also going to ask the district to drop the criminal citations against the students. Still, she said "actions have consequences" and the two students would still not be able to take part in Saturday's graduation. 

DALLAS — Two Madison High School students face criminal citations and have been banned from their own commencement ceremony this weekend for releasing crickets and a frog on campus in a senior prank.

Da'Rontae Tarpley, an 18-year-old honor students, and Donnail Tekle were cited for disorderly conduct, a Class C misdemeanor, after the Monday afternoon incident.

They released more than 100 crickets and four frogs during fourth period, Tarpley said.

The principal was not amused.

Instead, she banned Tarpley and Tekle from walking across the stage this Saturday to accept their diplomas.

"When I'm telling all my family, 'Hold off on your travel plans because Da'Rontae was arrested,' they're thinking he was arrested for something major — killing a mascot or something.," said his mother, Toya Robinson-Watkins. "When I tell them what it's about, they're like 'What?!'"

"I was appalled because, you know, you can't graduate over a senior prank? It's like tradition," Tarpley protested.

But Dallas ISD said the punishment should not come as a surprise to the young pranksters. The principal warned seniors against performing stunts at the end of the year unless they wanted to be banned from participating in the graduation ceremony.

Tarpley's mother said she wants her son to take responsibility, but believes a criminal charge and banishment from commencement is excessive — especially since the district never charged two Skyline athletes who were recently caught on camera stealing computers until News 8 started asking questions.

"I think this is a horrible way to make an example of somebody," Robinson-Watkins said. "She [the principal] got the police involved. My son has never never had police involvement. Never."

The graduating senior prays the principal will offer a reprieve after what he insists was nothing more than a young man's rite of passage.